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Friday’s NFL: Cam Newton embracing new challenge, fresh start with Patriots

Kyle Hightower
Associated Press

Cam Newton is the first to admit he’s still getting used to his new life as a member of the New England Patriots.

Everything feels strange, from his morning ride to the stadium, to just putting on gear with different colors and insignia for the first time in nine NFL seasons.

But a week into this latest stop in his career, the 2015 league MVP says he isn’t as much concerned with replacing Tom Brady or silencing his doubters as he is with proving to himself that he’s still capable of performing at a high level.

In this still image from a Webex media availability hosted by the New England Patriots, quarterback Cam Newton responds to a question on Friday in Foxborough, Mass.

“I don’t have to prove nothing,” Newton said in a conference call with reporters Friday. “I have to prove (something) to myself. That’s a daily challenge. And I don’t think nobody’s expectations will ever surpass my expectations for myself. I’m just looking forward to the challenge.”

Newton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last month and instantly brought more intrigue to who will be New England’s starting quarterback this season following Brady’s decision to end his 20-year tenure and sign with Tampa Bay.

“We all know what that was and what it is and it needs no mention,” Newton said. “But yet, at the same time, I think I’ve got my hands full with trying to learn as much as I can in a short period of time, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick said it’s also a fresh start for him after his nine-year tenure in Carolina, the Panthers releasing him in March with one year remaining on a five-year, $103.8 million contract. Newton insists there’s no ill will.

“I wake up mad. The fact that I’m not able to see my kids on a regular basis, that’s what makes me mad. So at the end of the day, for me, I’m not going to dwell on the past,” he said. “I think I’m a person that is a self-motivator. Even though the past is the past, I’m not going to keep looking back. For me it’s just turn the page and move forward.”

The Patriots are still more than a week away from putting on pads for the first time as they begin a slow training camp ramp up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Given Newton’s resume, he would appear to be the front-runner to be Brady’s successor over second-year QB Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer (Michigan State), a former Brady backup who is returning for his third stint with the Patriots.

All three quarterbacks said they are approaching camp with the mindset of winning the top job. And in recent weeks all three got a jump on that competition by working out with the Patriots’ returning receivers.

In this still image from a Webex media availability hosted by the New England Patriots, quarterback Brian Hoyer (Michigan State) responds to a question Friday in Foxborough, Mass.

Hoyer, who signed in March after being beaten out by Stidham to be Brady’s backup last season, said there’s been a lot of synergy in the quarterback room.

“When Tom was here I was always competing for the starting job, too,” Hoyer said. “Now, I was probably never going to get that, but I always competed like I was going to try to beat him out.”

Stidham, too, is going into the situation with open eyes.

He already has a relationship with Hoyer from their 2019 time together. He had the opportunity to interact with Newton when the fellow Auburn Tigers alum came back and spoke to the team during Stidham’s senior season.

With a year in the Patriots’ system under his belt, he said he’s more than willing to impart what knowledge he can to help ease Newton’s transition.

“We’re all there to help each other,” Stidham said.

Class by themselves

Coaches will have their own category for being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame – at least for the next four years.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees approved a change in the selection process. Effective with the class of 2021, there will be 15 modern-era players as finalists (with a maximum of five ultimately elected). There also will be one coach finalist, one senior finalist and one contributor finalist through the selection of the class of 2024.

Previously, coaches were considered along with players, lessening their chances of being elected to the Canton, Ohio, shrine. There also were one or two senior and one or two contributor finalists, with those numbers alternating each year, with three candidates combined annually.

The Centennial Class elections were a one-time option to celebrate the NFL’s 100th season.

The total number of finalists will remain at 18 for the selection meeting on the day before the Super Bowl. The maximum size of each enshrinement class is eight. A candidate must receive at least 80% approval to earn election.

Giants’ Baker charged

New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker was formally charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm in connection with a fight at a cookout in May, a prosecutor said.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who also was arrested, won’t be prosecuted because of insufficient evidence, Broward County State Attorney Mike Satz said.

Baker is accused of stealing cash and watches from four men. The punishment in event of conviction is a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in state prison.

Baker surrendered to jail on May 16 and was released on bond while the investigation continued. His next court hearing date hasn’t been announced.

Personnel Dept.

Washington Football Team released running back Derrius Guice after he was charged in multiple domestic violence incidents. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department told AP that Guice was arrested on one count of strangulation, three counts of assault and battery and one count of destruction of property. Strangulation is a Class 6 felony in Virginia.

... The San Francisco 49ers signed defensive lineman Dion Jordan to a one-year contract.

... The New Orleans Saints signed linebacker Nigel Bradham and activated linebacker Kaden Elliss from the club’s Reserve/COVID-19 list.

... Linebacker Vic Beasley reported to the Tennessee Titans and has been activated off the Reserve/DidNot Report list.